Calaveras Cantina – Jupiter, FL

Working in south Florida recently, I happened on this modern Mexican restaurant that’s a game-changer.  You can find all manner of terribly ordinary Mexican restaurants around the country with typical fare and average food.  However, when we stepped into this beautiful spot with authentic fare and a modern twist, we were psyched!  By land or by sea, a stop at Calaveras Cantina in Harbourside Place will be well worth your trip.

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We walked into the bright open space and were greeted by friendly staff and the aroma of onions, spices and fried deliciousness.  The space is quite large with a bar, comfortable booths and outdoor seating to enjoy Jupiter’s weather and harbor.  The bright wall decorations and colorful glass lighting make for a lively environment.  We settled into the menu while sipping some Casa Margaritas.  There’s a lengthy selection of margaritas and other cocktails, available by the glass or pitcher (dangerous!).  You should try their Watermelon Jalapeño for a sweet-hot twist on the original.

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There was no doubt we needed fresh corn tortilla chips.  We also quickly realized that table side guacamole was a no-brainer.  Fresh, creamy, spicy and citrusy, it was the perfect pairing with our margaritas and chips.  I was impressed with the servers who were attentive and clearly “guac experts”!  There’s a dizzying selection of traditional favorites on the menu with a modern twist – think duck confit empanadas or pork belly tacos with kimchi.  I settled on the traditional tacos al pastor with spicy pork, pineapple, cilantro and chihuahua cheese.  How happy were my tastebuds??  Wow!

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I don’t get to Jupiter enough, but when I do, I will certainly make Calaveras Cantina a regular stop for lunch or dinner.  Whether a casual afternoon lunch or dinner with clients, this is an experience that everyone will appreciate.  Curtis Peery and friends have built a fantastic concept that warrants kudos on many levels – food, service and atmosphere.  Check out more of Palm Beach’s tequila-serving gem at calaverascantina.com.  Dig in!

Beef Tongue Tacos (Tacos de Lingua)

When we had an opportunity to split a whole steer with some neighbors, we jumped at the chance.  My first question was, “does anyone want the weird parts?”  Luckily for me, no one did and I ended up with a beef tongue.  What do you do with a beef tongue?  Well, you make the best tacos you’ve ever had!  The richest beef lays a perfect foundation for all your favorite south-of-the-border toppings in this easy dish.

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BEEF TONGUE TACOS

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Lbs. Beef Tongue
  • 4 Shallots, Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Smashed
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 1 Tbs. Black Peppercorns
  • 3 Whole Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • Small Corn Tortillas
  • 1 Avocado, Diced
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Queso Fresco, Grated

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Instructions

  • Rinse beef tongue thoroughly and place in a medium stock pot.
  • Place shallots, garlic cloves, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves in with the tongue.
  • Cover completely with water and place on stove on medium heat covered until boiling.
  • Turn down heat and simmer with lid cracked for 3 hours.  You may need to add some liquid along the way to ensure the tongue remains covered.  HINT:  the skin on the tongue will turn bright white – that’s OK!
  • At 3 hours, take the pot off heat.  Remove tongue from liquid and place on a cutting board until you are able to handle.
  • Using a sharp knife to start it, peel the outer skin from the tongue completely.  Remove any excess fat or connective tissue.
  • Dice meat into 1-inch cubes.
  • In a cast iron skillet, sauté meat in canola oil until edges are crispy, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove meat and drain on paper towels.
  • Serve immediately, assembling tacos with meat and toppings listed in ingredients.

If you can get past the idea of the tongue, you’ll experience the richest tender beef you’ve ever had.  With it’s deep flavor, it stands up to spicy salsa, the bite of pickled red onions, creamy avocado and salty queso fresco.  (SIDE NOTE:  Don’t buy pickled onions!  Dissolve 3 Tbs. sugar and 1 1/2 Tbs. salt in 1 cup white vinegar over low heat.  Add 1 Tsp. black peppercorns and pour the hot liquid over a thinly sliced large red onion.  Allow to cool and store covered in the refrigerator.)  The combinations are endless, but the star of the show is the beef that can taste you back!  My friend Marcos would be so proud of me.  Dig in!

Hanky Panks

Much like its “frisky” name, these spicy cheesy sausage toasts will light a little fire in you! I often get requests for appetizer recipes that are easy for someone to take a bite and go.  These hanky banks are hearty, delicious and sturdy enough to grab one and mingle with your drink vs. standing around a chip and dip bowl or carrying a plate around.  Prepare these in a large batch and freeze to keep them handy for parties or a quick appetizer with drinks or for unexpected company.  Kids and adults both will love them!

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HANKY PANKS

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs. Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Lb. Mild Pork Sausage
  • 1 Lb. Spicy Pork Sausage
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 32 Ounces Velveeta, Cut Into Chunks
  • 2 Loaves Light Party Rye

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Instructions

  • In a heavy pot, brown ground beef and sausage along with garlic salt, oregano and pepper flakes.  Drain meat throughly.
  • Place meat back in pot and add chunked Velveeta.  Stir over low heat until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.  It will be thick, but should be able to stir.
  • Remove from heat and spoon roughly 1 1/2 Tbs. of mixture onto each slice of party rye.  Place each finished rye bread on cookie sheets until all bread and mixture is used.  Put cookie sheets into freezer for 20 minutes until they are frozen or at least solid enough to stack in gallon freezer bags.
  • Bag in servings of one dozen and freeze until ready to use.
  • When ready to serve, place frozen hanky banks on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until they are bubbly and slightly browned.  Serve immediately.

It never fails to please a hungry crowd when you bake up a few dozen of these spicy snacks.  They’re perfect for football season and holidays or basically anytime you have no awareness of calorie count!  If you have an aversion to spicy food, feel free to use all mild sausage and/or eliminate the red pepper flakes.  If you want to make these in smaller batches you can also halve this recipe.  However, if you’re going through the process, I highly recommend making the full amount – your family and friends will love them!!